California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Individual and Couples Counseling and Brief Hypnotic Psychotherapy
2755 Cottage Way, Suite 5, Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 203-5310
"CLEAR, SENSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS"
"YOU DON'T MAKE SOMEONE LOVE YOU BY YELLING AT THEM"
I'll just put it right out here: I think marriage ought to be heaven on earth. Why not? It's just two people, not a committee or a roomful--just two imperfect but willing people trying to make a mutually beneficial deal. The deal is to live our version of heaven now, in the life we have now; to allow the love we have for another and the love we receive from another to heal us of our past injuries now. To think up what would be paradise for us and make a mutual agreement to create it for each other now. And to stop waiting for the life we yearn for to happen some time in the future. Let's make it happen now. It can be done. We know how. There is no reason not to do so.
But, having said the above--I also know that sometimes people need to split, and should split, and I respect that choice. Sometimes when people come in to the office their marriage is already basically DOA, and it's time to move on. Hopefully wiser for it. In this case the goal is to split like adults, with decency and mutual respect, and if we have children, especially without involving them in our differences. Later on we want to look back on the memories without bitterness toward our ex, and with the inner peace that comes from knowing that we acted as adults.
Or, if you are someone whose past relationships haven't worked out so well, you may be wondering what your fate will be. Maybe you want to "fix yourself up" a bit or fortify yourself with a little therapy first. Re-evaluate, take a closer look at your strengths and areas that could use some tuning up. Clarify your boundaries. Because my belief is that there IS someone for you, someone "perfect for you," and I say that based both on statistics and on what I have seen happen. There are millions of nice people out there, and one or even more who would think you were their perfect person if you should meet. There are many quality people who understand agreements and how to keep them. That person is waiting to meet you and doesn't even know it. Yeah, I know it's not easy to do the search, but the payoff is more than worth it. Call me a hopeless romantic, but believe me--believe me, it's worth the trouble.
HERE'S A HINT: IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE UNATTACHED AND ARE OPEN TO MEETING SOMEONE--you will want to look for a person who understands the concept of RULES FOR SELF, and AGREEMENTS WITH PARTNER. The two essentials of a great relationship. Someone who knows we don't make rules for others, only for ourselves, and who also knows solid relationships are based on making and KEEPING agreements. Lots more to say about this. Ask me for more details.
HERE'S AN ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE COUNSELING
Typically, partners are a little (or a lot) tense when they first come in for marriage or relationship counseling.
Prospective clients may be wary because of unfamiliarity with how the whole counseling thing works, and worried that the therapist will "take sides" against him or her. Clients usually feel "alone" because their spouse probably isn't an ally at this point, and the therapist is a stranger. Clients wonder if they're going to be criticized or shamed or ganged-up-on. And the very fact that you're in marriage counseling somehow seems like admitting failure. For a lot of people the whole experience feels kind of embarrassing or shameful. There are other places you'd really rather be.
Also, couples may not be getting along very well at home, and you don't want to have to sit there and take another scolding from your spouse that you have already heard, maybe numerous times. (But don't worry, I don't allow scolding by anybody.)
Therapists are highly focused too. We have just one hour to find out what's going on now, get some history, ask some key questions, establish connections with both clients, clarify goals, and form a time-limited plan for improvement that makes sense to both. And help both partners to be encouraged enough to make another appointment.
The first big question for each individual is: Do you want to stay together with your husband/wife? The possible answers are Yes, No, or Maybe (haven’t decided).
Your answer becomes the goal of counseling. I will work with your answer with each individual. I don’t take sides (or I take each of your sides, however you want to look at it). I'm an advocate for both of you.
No matter what the outcome is, the biggest goal is for you to be happier than you were before counseling. So whatever the final outcome, a few years from now you can say “I did all the right things--for the right reasons.”
If the answer is stay together, the goal becomes to heal what is troubling the relationship and create ways to achieve a more loving and satisfying relationship. My belief is marriage can and should meet the needs of both persons.
If the answer is split, the goal is to do it as adults, respectfully and fairly, to be honest and straightforward, and not to enrich competing lawyers who will fight each other while you watch and pay them. Pay them a lot. I strongly suggest mediation, instead.
If the answer is “Haven’t decided,” the goal is to help each person decide.
If one person decides not to come in, the other should come in anyway. It’s OK. We do not allow undermining of the absent person.
Remember that problems were not created in a day, so it will take a few sessions to achieve results. Please be patient, it is the key to success.
Two reactions are very common: 1. Things get better in one or two sessions and clients decide to quit counseling because they had a good week or some good conversations and think their problems are over. Advice: don’t get better too quick. Make sure the underlying issues are taken care of. Otherwise you may feel too embarrassed to call me back and make another appointment if/when things deteriorate again. At this point many people say “We tried marriage counseling and it didn’t work,” or they have to start over again with a different counselor.
The other very common reaction: 2. Things get worse after one or two sessions, people get discouraged and want to quit because it looks hopeless. Facing relationship problems is difficult and we want solutions fast. But patience will pay off hugely because we're going to do it right the first time. It takes a while to do it right (5 sessions, minimum). Counseling is much, much cheaper than the costs of a divorce!
This means that, for counseling to be of benefit, you need to commit in your own mind to coming in for at least five sessions. You are not signing anything, you are not obligated to in any way, but the process needs a minimum time to work successfully.
My promise to you is: I won't shame you, I won't try to find out all your secrets, I won't tell you what to do, I won't beat up on you or allow your spouse to beat up on you in my office. I will respect you as you are and encourage you to describe what you want. I will operate with the goal of helping both of you create a better future, whether you end up married or single.
One last thing, between sessions, think of questions for me. I promise you I will answer every question. Ask for what you want from me, every session. You have a right to get your money’s worth from me. Make me work.